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  • Addressing software - IMb codes

    I need suggestions and opinions! I manage a university in-plant shop, and our new hot topic is adding IMb codes to addresses for mailings to save on postage. Obviously, we need software to be able to do this. I've had a recommendation of AccuZIP, and I know they're reputable. I'd like to hear other suggestions as well so we can weigh our options. Our mailings vary from 150-5,000 pieces each, and we probably send out 40-50 a year, mostly post cards with the majority mailing non-profit.

    We're a fully-digital shop running Konica presses with Fiery servers. Right now, we address using the data merge feature in InDesign, exporting a PDF with variable address data on every page. We then drop this into Fiery Impose, print, and cut. I need to figure out how adding postal software is going to affect our workflow - positively and negatively. I'm thinking we'd be able to export the address data from the software, and then merge it with the artwork using the VDP feature in CommandWorkstation. Does anybody else do it this way? Is there an easier way?

    Any input is appreciated!

  • #2
    I do it everyday with the same software except I use bcc mail manager. Export in presort order with imb characters and digits, merge the characters in indisgn with the correct imb font for your size, use cut stack in fiery and it should be good to go.

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    • #3
      Gotcha, so the software(s) will just add the IMb code to the spreadsheet. Then we can just data merge as per usual. That'd be great, because it wouldn't change our workflow at all!

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      • #4
        How are you planning to get your mailings in trays? Manually separate or separate files?


        I do things differently. I can't tell you if its the right way or the wrong way but its the way my predecessor did it so I am just as curious as you to see how other people do it.


        We used to use Accuzip. We recently let our contract lapse. It is functional though kind of irritating that we'd go in to do a mailing and find we needed to update the software. And bimonthly or so we would get a disc in the mail to update it. Also the software looks like it was written in 1993 and never updated graphically.

        But if you want to know if it works...yes, usually. I find it quirky.


        I use Fusion Pro to merge and impose, separate trays. The data merge function is more or less similar to what you are doing, but also have a script I use to separate and name files by container id (trays) and I set up a template to impose automatically. That way when we have 150 trays or something it is also individual files.
        Last edited by ksherrod; 02-08-2018, 09:38 AM.

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        • #5
          That's disappointing to hear they haven't updated the software. I used AccuZIP at a previous employer about 12 years ago to generate mailing labels. Now, I'd expect a streamlined interface and automatic downloads for updates. Sounds like they aren't auto-linking to the NCOA and CASS lists from the USPS, and they're providing the updates via a download/CD (which I can't use, because we run on Macbook Pros that don't have optical drives - nor should I need one in this day and age).

          We're an educational in-plant, so we don't pre-sort trays, and I don't think we'll have to because we don't really produce bulk/route mailings (I can't remember what they're called right now, but I'm talking about mailings that need to be pre-sorted in trays for mail routes). Everything we mail is going to targeted addresses.

          We usually only have 1-4 trays for mailings I produce in-house - small beans comparatively. Anything larger I send to a third-party vendor to produce to save on printing cost, and they have the automation to tray sort if needed. This is why I'm investigating though. I wanted some ideas from this community on softwares to look at, and then I need to perform a cost-analysis to see if it's even worth investing in the software. If we aren't saving more in postage than it costs to license the software...then obviously it's a no-go.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by crajos View Post
            That's disappointing to hear they haven't updated the software. I used AccuZIP at a previous employer about 12 years ago to generate mailing labels. Now, I'd expect a streamlined interface and automatic downloads for updates. Sounds like they aren't auto-linking to the NCOA and CASS lists from the USPS, and they're providing the updates via a download/CD (which I can't use, because we run on Macbook Pros that don't have optical drives - nor should I need one in this day and age).

            We're an educational in-plant, so we don't pre-sort trays, and I don't think we'll have to because we don't really produce bulk/route mailings (I can't remember what they're called right now, but I'm talking about mailings that need to be pre-sorted in trays for mail routes). Everything we mail is going to targeted addresses.

            We usually only have 1-4 trays for mailings I produce in-house - small beans comparatively. Anything larger I send to a third-party vendor to produce to save on printing cost, and they have the automation to tray sort if needed. This is why I'm investigating though. I wanted some ideas from this community on softwares to look at, and then I need to perform a cost-analysis to see if it's even worth investing in the software. If we aren't saving more in postage than it costs to license the software...then obviously it's a no-go.

            I'm not sure if automatic downloads are part of the feature set...our internet connection is poor so that's why we were on the disc plan. I would receive download links around the same time I received DVDs...so my guess is that its not automated. As soon as we received the discs I would update the software, but it seemed like every other time we had a mailing in house the sort wouldn't be accepted by the USPS because something had changed and needed updated again.

            We allowed the contract with Accuzip to lapse because of the above reasons, and also because we do not require an annual tool like this for the small number of presort mailings we do...in 2017 I believe around 8-10. Alternatively I was considering using a mail sort vendor or a service like mailsorter.com which is entirely cloud based, and can be paid "as we use it" as opposed to thousands of dollars per year. But as I have not needed to use this service yet since our contract lapsed I cannot offer it as a recommendation. At ~$2500/year one would have to do a lot of mailings to make Accuzip cost effective, IMHO. If you were a mail sort provider then it could make sense, but for in-plant use you would want to crunch numbers for sure.
            Last edited by ksherrod; 02-08-2018, 09:50 AM.

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            • #7
              A big cost driver in the software is the CASS certification piece, which updates/verifies the required 9-digit zip and 2-digit delivery point code, as required by USPS. USPS licensing for the required databases in expensive.

              Depending on how often you are mailing and whether you are doing repeat mailings to the same list (or parts thereof), it can be more economical to outsource that CASS piece, and NCOA if you're using it, since CASS for any address only needs to be done once every 6 months, assuming you're not doing carrier route mailings, and NCOA once every 95 days.

              You can CASS-certify a list of about 10,000 for typically around $30, a little more with NCOA added. There are several vendors who do this - we have some listed at savepostage.com/bulkmail101/cass.html

              Then, the software for just presort and creating the actual IMB is much less expensive. We offer our Postage Saver Pro product that does presort and IMB for under $100, and we have a product that just creates IMBs and tray/sack tags for $35.

              If you're mailing presort every day, that's probably not the answer. But for less frequent presort jobs, it can be substantially less expensive.

              Scott
              Postage Saver Software

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              • #8
                There's a few misunderstandings and mis-statements going on here so I'd like to clarify:
                1. The reason why there are so many updates aren't because there are bugs in the software. It's because the USPS requires it. There are new datasets released monthly by the USPS and in order for the software to remain in compliance, it must be updated with those. Any software that isn't cloud based is going to require you to do this, not just Accuzip. Most of them have gone to downloads and no longer send out DVDs. CASS data must be updated every 90 days for a mailing, not 6 months....just Google it.
                NCOA is not required, but a big help. You can still use ancillary messages and get all address updates manually through postcard notifications. As long as you perform those updates, you are in compliance. There are now digital options to receive move update info if you are a full service mailer.

                2. Yes, Accuzip still looks like it was written in 1993 with Fox Pro. The downside to this is it's harder to use. The upside to this is that it can certify addresses much faster than competing products.

                3. Another upside to Accuzip is that it can be run with scripts and hot folders. So if you are good with scripting or have a lite programmer on staff, you can setup fully automated, unattended processing that fits into any workflow.

                4. The last upside to it IMO is the price, you can't beat it and if you want simple mail tracking, their AccuTrace is a very affordable product.

                We used to have Satori, now Quadrient, and bailed on them because they didn't have a problem with their software incorrectly applying over $3,000 to a mailing. It was a bug in their manifesting that they didn't feel was a bug at all. Their tracking fees are ridiculously high too. Satori is much easier to use, but at the time we had it, wasn't capable of automated running. That was an $11,000 upgrade....

                Mailing today and receiving discounts is not an easy task and requires someone within your team to always be aware of changes to processes and rules.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the reply u/printing656.

                  1. I'm aware the updates are CASS updates, and not software updates, but thank you for clarifying.

                  2./3. Outdated software; while still useful, isn't really a good fit for our facility. And IMO, it really has no place in the modern computing world. I can't see investing in a software if they haven't invested in it themselves to update the interface.

                  I'll be looking at alternatives to AccuZIP...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Crajos,
                    Understood and agree. The software does everything any other postal software does, it's just harder to use. I would still take a demo from the main players, BCC, Accuzip, and Quadient. Then get quotes for the software, NCOA, mail tracking-they charge additional for those add-ons, and weigh the pros and cons of each. Quadient charges for each scan occurred on a mail piece throughout it's delivery. They also force you to buy credits for their NCOA processing. For us, the old interface wasn't enough of a detriment compared to costs from other vendors for hot folders, automated and unattended processing and mail tracking. Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by shochberg View Post
                      A big cost driver in the software is the CASS certification piece, which updates/verifies the required 9-digit zip and 2-digit delivery point code, as required by USPS. USPS licensing for the required databases in expensive.

                      Depending on how often you are mailing and whether you are doing repeat mailings to the same list (or parts thereof), it can be more economical to outsource that CASS piece, and NCOA if you're using it, since CASS for any address only needs to be done once every 6 months, assuming you're not doing carrier route mailings, and NCOA once every 95 days.

                      You can CASS-certify a list of about 10,000 for typically around $30, a little more with NCOA added. There are several vendors who do this - we have some listed at savepostage.com/bulkmail101/cass.html

                      Then, the software for just presort and creating the actual IMB is much less expensive. We offer our Postage Saver Pro product that does presort and IMB for under $100, and we have a product that just creates IMBs and tray/sack tags for $35.

                      If you're mailing presort every day, that's probably not the answer. But for less frequent presort jobs, it can be substantially less expensive.

                      Scott
                      Postage Saver Software
                      We have used postage saver for about 3 years now and are happy with it. I use https://autozip.com/ for ncoa. We are at the point now where Satori or another program would probably be cheaper but what we are doing now works well and I don't have plans to change.

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                      • #12
                        Of course you need 200 pieces for standard/np and 500 for first class. For your list size and volume I'd look at Mailers Online. Whether you use an online service or software, you need to weigh the cost against the postage savings. Makes no sense spending $30 on processing to save $25 on postage. This is why I think an online list service is best for you. Utilize it for larger lists where you can save postage. Don't dump a bunch of money into software that you will never recover in postage.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by gregbatch View Post
                          Of course you need 200 pieces for standard/np and 500 for first class. For your list size and volume I'd look at Mailers Online. Whether you use an online service or software, you need to weigh the cost against the postage savings. Makes no sense spending $30 on processing to save $25 on postage. This is why I think an online list service is best for you. Utilize it for larger lists where you can save postage. Don't dump a bunch of money into software that you will never recover in postage.
                          Mmmmmmm. Not many print & mail shops "make money" on postage. It's basically a pass-through cost. It is, what it is. However, postal sortation software allows you to be competitive with other mail shops. Without it, your customer will want to know why XYZ printing, just around the corner, can print and mail much cheaper than you can. Answer: Because they have postal sortation software, that generates postal discounts. We don't so, the only way we can mail is First Class single piece.

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                          • #14
                            Or just use a local Presort House that does MLOCR.
                            (2) Ricoh Pro 7110SX digital printers
                            OKI C931e with Straight Shooter Envelope feeder

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                            • #15
                              Some good recommendations, I would encourage you to check out www.MailPreparer.com – for your volumes it will be about half the price as Accuzip, be easier to use and is currently the only USPS certified cloud solution for CASS/NCOA and presort. Full disclosure I work for TEC Mailing who owns the MailPreparer.com portal.

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